Aug 28 2008   9:28PM GMT

Trimming the fat off “bloatware”

Rachel Lebeaux Rachel Lebeaux Profile: Rachel Lebeaux

I hadn’t heard the term “bloatware” before, but it apparently refers to software that comes pre-installed on computers – Quicken, AOL, Yahoo – per agreements between the PC maker and the software provider. According to this article in the New York Times, such agreements can often make or break a profit margin for the computer manufacturer, who can earn $30 or more for each computer by reinstalling software.

But $30 is apparently a key number when it comes to “bloatware”: for that same price, consumers can have professionals, such as Best Buy’s “Geek Squad,” remove the pre-installed programs for them.

“You’d be surprised how often consumers tell us to get rid of it,” said Robert Stephens, the head of Geek Squad, the technical support division of Best Buy that removes the software. He declined to say how many people were paying for the service, but said that “it’s going to increase in popularity.”

Maybe I’m not the minimalist that some computer users are, but, come on, spend $30 so that somebody else will remove these pre-installed programs? Is it really that annoying to have them on their desktop? Or to follow some online instructions and remove them on their own?

My questions are these: Do corporate IT leaders consider “bloatware” in purchasing and deploying computers to their staff? Would you ever consider paying a service like Geek Squad to remove those programs to save your staff the time and effort of doing so? Have you seen any advantages to purchasing PCs with these pre-loaded programs?

2  Comments on this Post

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  • Karl
    Walt Mossberg of the Wall Street Journal has been howling about this stuff for years - He calls the pre-installed stuff 'crapware'. In several of his reviews of new systems, he'll point out ways in which you can obtain versions without the junk software installed.
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  • Michael
    I consider the removal of this junk essential before a new machine is handed over to the end-user. Removing it all noticeably improves the performance and reduces the number of help-desk calls my department has to deal with since a lot of this "bloatware" can interfere with corporate applications.
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